Island Boyz

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Authors: Graham Salisbury
Tags: Fiction
hurt my neck just to look up at him. Darci leaned into me. Even though Ledward had been coming around for about six months now, his size still scared her.
    “Hey,” I said.
    “What you two looking at out there?” he said.
    I shrugged. “Nothing.”
    He looked up, scanned the sky. “Storm coming.”
    “You heard if it’s going to be big?” I said.
    “No. But pro’bly. Yeah, I t’ink prob’ly.”
    I nodded, hoping he was right.
    “You mine if I wait for your mama?”
    “Sit,” I said.
    He eased down and sat facing the canal with his arms resting on his propped-up knees. He peeked around me. “Hi, Darcigirl.”
    Darci moved back so he couldn’t see her.
    Ledward chuckled.
    We sat a moment, saying nothing.
    Then Ledward said, “We going Buzz Steak House tonight, me and Angela.” That’s my mom, Angela.
    I nodded. “I like that place.”
    A bufo croaked down in the weeds by the water.
    “Grass getting kine of long,” Ledward said.
    Dang. I’d forgotten all about the grass. But Mom wasn’t home yet. I could still do it, I guess. “Angela told me you had one centipede in your room.”
    “Yeah,” I said. Man, was there anyone she didn’t tell stuff to?
    “Still in there?”
    I nodded.
    “You got to cut ’um up, you know.”
    “Huh?”
    “Chop ’um into lot of small pieces. If you just cut ’um one time, no good. The t’ing come back as two.”
    Darci peeked around me at Ledward, but he was staring off over the canal.
    “What do you mean, come back?”
    “If you make two chops, then what you got is t’ree of them. Still alive, ah?”
    “For real? You’re not making this up?”
    “But if you make more chops, then you got ’um.”
    Was he joking?
    He turned to look at me, kind of half-grinning. Darci moved back out of sight. The look on Ledward’s face said
You better listen up.
    “It could really grow into three centipedes?” I said.
    “Sure. Hard to kill those buggahs.”
     
    That night the wind grew stronger.
    Mom and Ledward went out to Buzz’s, leaving me home with Stella and Darci. But I stayed out in my room.
    I sat on the bottom bunk curling my dumbbells, with my heavy U.S. Army jungle knife lying next to me. I was thinking about what Ledward said about chopping up the centipede, how it could come back as more of them if you weren’t careful. The knife was gruesome, almost as big as a machete. You could probably kill an alligator with it. I was thinking maybe it might be too clumsy to cut up a centipede, with all the parts running away in every direction. But the thought of going after it with something smaller made me cringe.
    Sooner or later I’d have to deal with it.
    I put down the dumbbells.
    With the knife in one hand, I got up and peeked behind the frame, then checked the back edge of the counter, and the rock wall.
    Nothing.
    I got up on the counter and peeked into the dark crack where I’d seen it flowing out and down with its hundred shivering legs.
    Still nothing.
    I found a paper clip and bent it straight. But I couldn’t stick it in the crack. If the centipede was in there, and I disturbed it, it would come out lightning fast.
    Maybe it had gone back outside.
    And maybe not.
    I climbed up to the top bunk, taking the knife with me, then reached down and shut off the light with the point of the blade.
    I fell asleep listening to the sound of the wind knocking at my bedroom windows, the screens rattling in their frames.
     
    A while later the wind woke me up, a constant gust singing through the swamp grass and the ironwood trees out by the golf course that edged our street. I could see no lights outside my window.
    I got up and put my face up to the screen.
    Ledward’s Jeep was back.
    I tried the light switch. It didn’t work.
    The storm was growing, getting bigger and better by the hour. I lay back with my hands behind my head, listening to the sounds and dreaming of daybreak, when I could go out and roam the streets with my friends.
    A few minutes later I heard

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